What is comprehensive car insurance and what does it cover? This comprehensive car insurance guide has all the answers you are looking for.
Comprehensive car insurance is an optional coverage, which helps to cover your vehicle’s repair or replacement costs if it’s damaged by events outside your control. Comprehensive car insurance covers damage caused by vandalism, theft, falling objects, vandalism, fire, wind, hail, and animal damage.
In this comprehensive car insurance guide, we will walk you through what comprehensive car insurance covers, what is not covered, the cost of comprehensive car insurance, how it works, as well as whether you need to purchase it or not. We will also answer some commonly asked questions about comprehensive car insurance.
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About Comprehensive Car Insurance
Comprehensive car insurance is a type of car insurance coverage, which helps to pay the costs of repairing or replacing your car if it’s damaged during a non-collision-related incident.
Some people tend to assume that comprehensive car insurance is full car insurance coverage. However, that is not the case. As much as its name may suggest complete or full coverage, comprehensive coverage will not cover everything.
It’s mainly designed to fill the gap for damage that collision car insurance will not cover. For instance, it may cover things like fire, theft, falling objects, wind, theft, and vandalism, among others.
While comprehensive car insurance is not mandated in any state, you may need to add it to your car insurance policy, if your vehicle is leased or financed.
What Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover?
As noted above, comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your vehicle for anything that is not collision-related or damage that’s outside your control.
If you add comprehensive car insurance to your policy, it will cover damage caused by the following:
Theft and Vandalism
If your car is stolen and not recovered, then you would have to find a means of purchasing another one or using a rental until you raise money to buy another one.
But if you had added comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy, then it will help you to replace your car.
Also, if your vehicle is vandalized and the audio system is stolen or damaged, comprehensive car insurance will kick in and cover the repair or replacement costs.
Damage Caused by Animals
If you hit a deer when you are cruising down the highway, then your comprehensive car insurance will pay to repair your car.
Comprehensive auto insurance will also cover your vehicle’s repair or replacement costs if an animal gets inside your car and causes damage.
For example, a squirrel may climb up inside your car and start chewing on the wires, leading to extensive electrical problems in your vehicle.
If you have added comprehensive car insurance to your policy, then it will cover the costs associated with repairing your car.
However, you should note that if you swerve to avoid hitting an animal and you instead hit a tree or a guardrail, this damage will not be covered by your comprehensive car insurance policy. Instead, it will be covered by collision insurance.
Glass damage is also covered under comprehensive car insurance. In fact, it’s one of the most popular claims filed by car insurance policyholders.
The damage can be caused by pebbles or rocks on the road, branches, hail or falling objects. Regardless of whether the damage is major or minor, it will be covered under your comprehensive car insurance policy.
Damage Caused by Natural Disasters
Your comprehensive car insurance policy will also cover damage caused by natural disasters or weather elements.
For instance, your car may be damaged by wildfire, hail, storms, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes and similar incidents.
If you have comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy, then you just need to pay the deductible, and your insurance company will take care of the rest.
Car damage caused by acts of civil disturbances such as riots is also covered under comprehensive car insurance.
So, if you have parked your car outside your place of work and it’s vandalized, stolen, or damaged during a protest or riot, then your comprehensive car insurance coverage will help to cover your loss.
Simply put, if your car is damaged by something outside your control, then comprehensive car insurance will cover the repair or replacement costs. Therefore, it will cover damage caused by:
- Damage caused by natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes
- Falling objects
- Hitting an animal
- Civil disturbances like riots
What Doesn’t Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover
Contrary to popular belief, comprehensive car insurance doesn’t cover everything. It’s simply designed to work together with other car insurance coverages and protect you against financial loss if you are involved in a car accident.
So, what’s not covered under comprehensive car insurance? Well, here are some scenarios where your comprehensive car insurance will not cover you.
Collision with Another Car
First, if you are involved in a collision with another car, then comprehensive car insurance will not cover your vehicle’s repair or replacement costs.
Some people assume that as long as you have comprehensive car insurance, then it will automatically kick in situations where collision car insurance would have provided coverage.
But that’s not the case. And this explains why car insurance companies advise drivers to purchase both collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.
Medical or Legal Expenses
Comprehensive car insurance also doesn’t cover medical expenses arising from a collision or an accident involving your car.
And this will include you, the passengers inside the car, or the other parties that have been injured during a car accident. Furthermore, comprehensive car insurance will not cover lost income, legal expenses or funeral costs arising from a car accident.
So, if you cause a car accident that causes bodily injuries to another party, your comprehensive car insurance will not cover those costs.
Instead, this falls under your liability car insurance coverage. Therefore, if you don’t have liability coverage, then you will have to pay for the other party’s medical expenses from your own pocket.
Property damage is also not covered by comprehensive car insurance. Hence, if you rear-end another car, your comprehensive car insurance will not pay for those damages.
Also, if you damage your neighbor’s fence with your car as you are leaving your house, that damage will not be covered under your comprehensive car insurance.
Personal Property Inside Your Car
As much as comprehensive insurance will cover your vehicle’s replacement cost if it’s stolen, personal effects inside that car will not be covered.
Therefore, if your laptop was inside your car at the time it was stolen, your comprehensive car insurance policy will only cover your car’s replacement costs, and not your laptop or other personal effects.
Also, if someone breaks into your car and steals your Labrador Retriever, your comprehensive car insurance will not compensate you for that loss.
In most situations, your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy will cover such losses, if there were some valuables inside your car when it was stolen.
How Comprehensive Car Insurance Works
When you are buying comprehensive car insurance, your insurer will ask you to choose a deductible.
Simply put, a deductible is an out-of-pocket amount that you will pay when submitting a claim for a covered loss.
Common deductible amounts for comprehensive coverage are $500 and $1000. Assuming your car is damaged during a civil riot and you have a $1000 deductible on your comprehensive car insurance.
When you file a claim for this loss, your insurer will write you a check to repair your vehicle, minus the $1000 deductible.
Apart from deductibles, comprehensive car insurance also has a coverage limit. The coverage limit is the maximum payout you will get from your insurer for an approved claim.
In most cases, the coverage limit for comprehensive car insurance coverage is normally equal to your car’s actual cash value or fair market value.
If your car is damaged under a covered loss and the cost to repair it will be bigger than its value, then your insurer will declare your car a total loss.
In such a situation, your insurance company will write you a check, equal to your car’s actual cash value, minus the comprehensive deductible.
And if your car is stolen and not recovered, the compensation amount will depend on the comprehensive coverage policy you have purchased. If you have purchased a replacement cost value policy, then your insurer will compensate you for the cost of purchasing a new car of a similar make and model.
What is a Good Comprehensive Insurance Deductible?
Comprehensive car insurance deductibles range from $100 to $2,500. When you choose a lower deductible, your comprehensive car insurance premium will be higher.
On the other hand, if you opt for a higher deductible, then your annual or monthly comprehensive car insurance premium will be lower.
So, should you choose a low deductible or a high deductible for your comprehensive car insurance policy? Well, it will depend on various factors such as:
Your Financial Situation
When you file a claim for a loss covered under your comprehensive car insurance policy, your compensation will be minus that deductible.
Assuming that you have a deductible of $1,500 on your comprehensive car insurance and the damage to your car is only worth $1000, you will be forced to cater for your vehicle’s repair costs out of your own pocket.
And if you currently don’t have that money, then you will be forced to seek alternative means of transportation.
On the other hand, if you had chosen a $500 deductible, you will receive $1000 from your insurer, which you will use to repair your vehicle.
So, when you are choosing your deductible, it’s highly advisable to choose an amount that you could comfortably pay out of your own pocket at any time.
Your Car’s Value
When choosing a deductible, you will also need to consider how much it will take to repair your car, if it’s damaged under a covered loss.
For instance, if you own one of the expensive car models, repairing it under a covered loss will be expensive.
Therefore, if you choose a lower deductible, then your insurer will raise your premiums. In such a case, you should go with a higher deductible.
On the other hand, if you are driving a less valuable or older car, choosing a high deductible for your comprehensive car insurance may not be worth it.
For example, if your deductible is $1000 and your car experiences damage worth $800, you will have to pay for the entirety of its repair out of pocket.
Your Risk Factors
If you mainly drive during rush hour or you drive on highly traveled roads, then there is a high chance of being involved in a collision.
Also, if you live in areas with high crime rates or one that is prone to natural disasters like tornadoes, then your chances of filing a comprehensive claim are high.
And considering that you will be paying the deductible every time your claim is approved, then you should choose a low comprehensive deductible.
Overall, you need to consider your ability to pay for the comprehensive deductible, your risk factors, your car’s value when choosing your deductible.
Once you make those considerations, it then will be easy to choose a comprehensive deductible, which aligns best with your situation.
How Much Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cost
The cost of comprehensive car insurance countrywide is approximately $160 annually. Maine is the cheapest state for comprehensive car insurance, where it will cost you approximately $100 per year or around $9 per month.
On the other hand, Wyoming is one the most expensive states for comprehensive car insurance, where you will pay approximately $300 annually.
But just like other types of car insurance coverages, the actual cost of your comprehensive car insurance policy will mainly depend on your risk profile.
The higher the likelihood of filing a comprehensive claim, the higher your premiums will be. However, some insurance companies offer discounts for people who purchase comprehensive car insurance, which may help to lower your costs.
Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage Limits
With most car insurance coverages such as liability car insurance, you choose the level of coverage that you want. You will then be paying your premiums based on the amount you’ve chosen.
But with comprehensive car insurance, you cannot choose the amount of coverage that you want. Instead, it will depend on the actual cash value of your car.
Therefore, if your car is stolen or damaged beyond repair under a covered loss, your insurer will compensate you based on the actual cash value of your car, minus your deductible.
For example, if your car is currently worth $15,000 and your deductible is $1,000, then you may receive up to $14,000 for the car.
The settlement you receive will also include fees and taxes that you paid when you purchased that car.
Do You Need Comprehensive Car Insurance
Comprehensive car insurance is an optional coverage. In short, it’s not mandated in any state.
So, should you add comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy? Well, the answer to this question will depend on whether or not you can afford to repair or replace your car.
You Cannot Afford to Replace Your Car
If you cannot afford to replace or repair your car, then you should purchase comprehensive car insurance.
For example, a severe hailstorm may hit your hometown and uproot a large tree on your compound. And that tree may fall onto your car, damaging it beyond repair. In case of such an unfortunate situation, could you afford to purchase a new car?
If the answer is no, then you should consider adding comprehensive coverage to your current car insurance policy.
As noted earlier, comprehensive car insurance costs approximately $160, which is quite an inexpensive means of protecting your vehicle as well as your finances.
You Can Afford to Replace Your Car
If you can afford to replace your car, you can either opt to purchase comprehensive car insurance or not, depending on your personal preferences.
If your emergency fund has enough money that you can use to replace your car, then you may not need to buy comprehensive car insurance.
But before you decide against buying comprehensive car insurance, you also need to consider your risk factors.
For instance, if you live in hazardous areas, then the chances of your car being damaged are extremely high.
Hazardous areas may include neighborhoods with high crime rates, areas that experience natural disasters like tornadoes, hailstorms, wildfires and hurricanes, busy highways where rocks or gravel can damage your windshield and rural areas where there is a high chance of hitting a wild animal.
If you live in such areas, you will be repairing or replacing your car frequently. And as much as you can afford to repair or replace your car, doing it frequently will definitely put a significant strain on your finances.
Your Car is Leased or Financed
If your car is leased or financed, then you may not have a choice. There is a high chance that your lender will require you to purchase both collision and comprehensive insurance.
Hence, if your vehicle is damaged or totaled, comprehensive car insurance will help to repair or replace it, thus protecting the lender against financial loss.
Comprehensive Car Insurance vs. Collision Car Insurance
Comprehensive car insurance and collision car insurance will both cover your vehicle’s repair or replacement costs if it’s damaged.
The main difference between these two types of car insurance is the driver’s control over the car, during an accident.
Collision coverage will cover your car’s repair or replacement costs, for events that are within your control or when another vehicle hits your car.
Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, will cover your vehicle’s repair or replacement costs, for events that are outside the driver’s control.
For instance, a heavy storm may hit your area. And within that storm, two events may happen.
First, a tree branch may fall on your car, when it’s parked on the street. During such a situation, you had no control over why that branch fell on your car. Such type of damage will be reimbursed or covered under your comprehensive car insurance.
And second, during the same storm, you may swerve to avoid a tree branch from falling on your car, and you end up crashing into a road barrier. Since you were driving the car, this damage will be reimbursed under your collision car insurance policy.
In most cases, comprehensive car insurance covers damage that collision coverage will not and vice versa. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to bundle these two coverages, if you can afford them.
Comprehensive Car Insurance FAQs
Is comprehensive car insurance worth it?
Yes. Comprehensive car insurance is worth it, if you cannot afford to replace or repair your car. Also, you should consider purchasing this coverage if its premium is a small fraction of your car’s value. Furthermore, your dealership may require you to purchase this insurance together with collision coverage, if your car is financed or leased.
Does comprehensive car insurance cover theft and vandalism?
Yes, your comprehensive car insurance policy will reimburse you if your vehicle is stolen. It will also cover your vehicle’s repair costs if a thief breaks into your car and steals some parts. However, you should note that comprehensive car insurance will not cover personal possessions stolen from the car such as laptops, phones, wallets or jewelry.
Is comprehensive car insurance full coverage?
No, comprehensive car insurance is not full coverage, as some people tend to assume. Instead, it’s part of a full coverage insurance policy, together with collision coverage and other car insurance coverages mandated by your state. Comprehensive car insurance will only cover events outside your control or damage caused to the car when it’s parked.
When should you drop comprehensive car insurance?
If you can afford to replace your car, or your comprehensive car insurance deductible is almost the same as the value of your car, then you should consider dropping comprehensive car insurance. But if your car is valuable, you live in hazardous areas or your vehicle is leased or financed, then you shouldn’t drop your comprehensive car insurance.
How do you choose a comprehensive coverage deductible?
You should choose a comprehensive car insurance deductible that you can comfortably afford to pay if your car is damaged under a covered loss. Before choosing a deductible, you should consider how often you are likely to file a comprehensive car insurance claim. Drivers who live in hazardous areas should choose low deductibles.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding